From the Southeastern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission …
We have scheduled a Stakeholder meeting for Thursday, March 8, 2018, in the multipurpose room of the Oak Creek Civic Center (8040 S 6th St., Oak Creek). The meeting will be held from 6 to 7:30 pm. There will be two presentations, one by SEWRPC staff reviewing plan progress and the second by WDNR staff summarizing a recent aquatic evaluation of the watershed. Please register for the meeting using the link here so we may plan accordingly. A light supper will be served.
Here is a letter sent to the city recently with a more detailed update.
As you’ll read, significant progress has been made — although the plan completion date has been pushed back. First, the progress …
Following execution of an intergovernmental cooperation agreement (ICA) between the City of South Milwaukee, Milwaukee County, MMSD, and SEWRPC on January 5, 2016, the SEWRPC staff collected extensive field data during 2016 and 2017, characterizing the physical and biological properties of the main streams in the watershed, including the Oak Creek main stem, the North Branch of Oak Creek, and the Mitchell Field Drainage Ditch. That data collection effort also included deployment of 25 water temperature sensors within those streams. In that same general time period, under programs coordinated with the WRP, the City of Racine Health Department collected water quality data and WDNR staff collected data on aquatic life throughout the watershed. Analysis of the data collected by the SEWRPC staff has now begun.
During the 2016 through 2017 field data collection period, the SEWRPC staff also worked to finalize the structure of the report documenting the plan, developed an online survey for the plan, and collated the numerous comments identifying problem areas that were obtained during the August 2016 stakeholder meeting.
The initial watershed stakeholder meeting at South Milwaukee City Hall on April 12, 2016, was attended by 50 people. At that meeting, those in attendance were provided with an overview of the issues to be addressed by the plan, and they had an opportunity to ask questions of the SEWRPC staff.
The second stakeholder meeting was held at the Oak Creek Civic Center on August 30, 2016. That meeting was attended by 37 people. Following a brief overview of the plan presented by SEWRPC staff, the attendees broke out into five groups organized by subwatershed and facilitated by SEWRPC staff members. Those groups helped identify problems related to the focus areas of the plan and suggested potential projects to address those problems. Problem areas and potential projects identified by attendees were noted on large-scale color orthophotographs of the subwatershed areas.
On April 26, 2017, at South Milwaukee City Hall, the SEWRPC staff presented an update on the progress of the plan and on information collected to date. That presentation was part of a Root-Pike WIN informa-tional session on green infrastructure.
The first Advisory Group meeting was held at the Oak Creek Civic Center on February 7, 2018. That meeting included a discussion of the role of the Advisory Group in reviewing and guiding the plan, an overview of the plan, and presentations by SEWRPC and WDNR on the extensive field work conducted in the watershed for the plan.
Also, from the letter …
The planning effort was initially scheduled to be completed by the end of July 2018. As we have discussed with you, Milwaukee County, and MMSD, the date for completion of the study has now been extended to the end of 2020. We anticipate completing report Chapters 1 (introduction) and 2 (previous studies) in the summer of 2018. All report chapters will be reviewed in detail by the Advisory Group formed to guide the plan. Chapter 3 (characterization of the watershed) will be completed and reviewed by the end of 2018. Chapter 4 (inventory), and Chapter 5 (goals), will be completed and reviewed by the end of 2019. Chapter 6 (recommendations) and the plan summary will be completed before the end of 2020. Chapter 6 will include recommendations for the Mill Pond and dam. During the course of continuing plan preparation and review, we anticipate holding four more stakeholder meetings and six more Advisory Group meetings.
As frustrating as the delay is, it doesn’t change the fact this is still the right thing to do for the watershed, the right approach to take in bringing about significant and necessary investments.
We need to do this right, developing a scientific case for investment, with projects clearly identified, in priority order. And if it takes longer to do it, I can live with that. The watershed has been in decline for decades. Waiting on the study is a small price to pay for bringing new life to this important local resource.
Also, investments continue to be made in the watershed, in the interim. Among them …
- The city, through our stormwater utility, has invested in improving city-owned outfalls into the creek and streambank repairs.
- Milwaukee County last year rebuilt the streambank below the Mill Pond waterfall, and work on the adjacent bridge on Oak Creek Parkway continues. Also, the county actively manages and conducts research at 18 different natural areas locations in the watershed. Ecological activities include wildlife habitat management, invasive species control, wetland monitoring, wildlife surveys and plant inventories.
- Also, MMSD is seeking grant money for flood control in Oak Creek this year.
While I’m happy to see this continued work, significant, big-dollar investments will require the study to be completed first. Simply, funding agencies won’t spend large amounts of money without this comprehensive, scientific approach.
I’ll share more updates as they become available, and will hold SEWRPC accountable to the new timeline. Please do the same.